Chief minister Arjun Munda and DGP GS Rath at the inauguration of the meet in Hotwar on Friday and (right) tribals perform at a cultural programme. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
For more than three-quarters of the 1,500m race, no one gave Suresh Munda a chance.
Trailing behind West Singhbhum’s Pandey Honhag, who led the pack of runners circuiting the 400m track, the chances of Ranchi boy Munda making a comeback were slim. Yet, what the pundits had not foreseen was a last burst of energy, a last ditch effort, which saw the tribal boy stepping on the gas and surging ahead of Honhag in the last 50m to finish first in a race of grit.
While Suresh clocked 4:30:12 seconds, Honhag finished a close second to bag the silver medal with a timing of 4:32:35. Sanjay Saran of East Singhbhum claimed the third place in the event with a timing of 4: 35.02.
The state-level Vanvasi Tribal Sports Meet, kicked off at the Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Hotwar on Friday amid much fanfare and a horde of promises, as tribal athletes from across the state convened in Ranchi to showcase their talent.
Addressing the gathering at the stadium before the 1,500m race, chief minister Arjun Munda stressed on the need to make proper use of the infrastructure that had been created for the 34th National Games.
“We have the infrastructure in place. We just need to ensure now that it is put to use properly. Talents from far flung and rural areas needs to be honed properly to bring them up to international standards. Everyone should get an equal opportunity in the discipline of sports,” he said.
The chief minister, who is known to be a sports enthusiast, added that he had directed the state sports department and other officials to look into the matter and ensure that every budding talent got a fair chance to grow.
“There is no dearth of talent in the state. All we need now is to give them proper attention and ensure that they are developed and promoted,” the chief minister said, putting a special word of appreciation for Suresh Munda and his tactical finesse to bag the gold medal.
DGP G.S. Rath, who was also present at the occasion as a special guest, in a speech to boast the morale of the participants, said that the budding sports stars would be absorbed by the police force.
“The state police will directly recruit, based on their qualifications, those who have performed well at the state or higher level sports meets,” Rath said.
Rath, during the inaugural ceremony, also lauded the efforts of the Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra in providing a platform to perform for sports talents from rural areas.
Earlier, a series of cultural programmes, depicting tribal and life of vanvasis or forest dwellers, enthralled a huge gathering that had come to witness the opening ceremony.
The programme started with Paika or war dance in which dozens of dancers put up a breathtaking show with swords and shields. This was followed by Oraon dance, which saw the women swaying to the move of rural drumbeats. The show ended with a variation of Chhau renditions after which chief minister Munda lit the lamp to officially inaugurate the meet.